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TCI denies leased access to ISP

A local TCI franchise in Washington denies the "leased access" application of Internet Ventures, but the small ISP has yet to give up its fight.

TCI of Spokane, a local cable television franchise in Washington, has denied the "leased access" application of Internet Ventures, but the small ISP has yet to give up its fight.

Internet Ventures, which operates a cable modem-based Net access service called PerkiNet, had applied with Washington area Tele-Communications Incorporated to lease a space on the company's cable TV network to carry its competing high-speed Internet service.

TCI has an exclusive agreement with cable modem service @Home Network.

Internet Ventures executives contend that under existing provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996--intended to protect independent TV programmers from being shut out by large operators--they should be allowed to pay individual local franchises for bandwidth.

Although the company's Spokane application was denied last week, the company still has applications pending with other cable systems in Ventura and Stockton, California and a TCI operator in Durango, Colorado.

TCI of Spokane executives could not immediately be reached for comment.

Many other regional and national Internet service providers such as America Online and MindSpring Enterprises have fought for so-called open access provisions to broadband cable networks. Proposed open access laws, which the Federal Communications Commission has yet to rule definitively on, seek to open all cable networks to competitors the way local phone networks are open today.

"Cable needs to get its head out of the sand and recognize that it can't say no to competition forever," Internet Ventures president Don Janke said in a statement.

Others are hopeful Internet Ventures can reap success for its efforts.

"We're very supportive of their effort because it's another way for keeping the open access push alive," said Gary Gardner, executive director of the Washington Association of Internet Service Providers. "There is really very little difference from a policy perspective between open access and leased access. It's a different approach?but it would still accomplish the same thing."

Internet Ventures is weighing its options in Spokane including an appeal or possible legal action, a spokesman said.